A copy of the latest official Texas highway map came into my possession just before we headed out for a summer getaway.

When we got home, word of a friend’s attendance at a high school reunion in the El Paso area appeared on Facebook. Before retiring, she had been a teacher there, but now lives in Tarrant County.

I graduated from a high school in southern New Mexico, 40 miles from El Paso, and our next reunion is a year away. The nearby mountains provide an ideal vacation, but it seems unlikely that we will visit there this summer. Fortunately, you don’t have to leave Texas to enjoy an amazing escape.

Just a reminder to those whose schedules are tied to the academic year: only about four weeks remain before classes begin in many Texas schools.

A map of the United States shows up frequently on social media, asking readers how many of the 50 states you have visited. Sadly, I’m barely over the halfway mark. And this, from someone who as a teenager was so enamored by the “Route 66” television show that I envisioned buying a sports car and striking out to see America between college semesters. It never happened.

Then somebody wrote the comment, “How many Texas counties have you visited?”

I found a map of Texas with all 254 counties outlined, and started coloring in where I’ve been. It’s a Texas geography lesson for sure, because the counties are labeled but cities are not. You’re a wiz in geography if you don’t need help.

I’m still working on it, between distractions like my afternoon nap and opening the door for our cats. The point is this: how many of Texas’ numerous attractions have we seen?

The list of unique destinations anyone with a Texas connection eventually needs to visit is so long, it boggles the mind.

For starters, there’s the Alamo, San Jacinto Monument, Houston Space Center, Big Bend, San Antonio’s River Walk, Guadalupe Mountains National Monument, Padre Island National Seashore, the Texas State Capitol, the Fort Worth Stockyards, Palo Duro Canyon, Moody Gardens and Aquarium in Galveston, Natural Bridge Caverns near San Antonio, the Big Thicket in southeast Texas, and a host of elegant museums in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston.

Other destinations to consider are to Boerne, Comfort, Bastrop, Wimberley, Round Top, Gruene, Luckenbach, Alpine, Marfa, Fort Davis, Shamrock, Canton, national and state parks… and the list goes on. As I said, it’s seemingly endless.

Perhaps the best vacation at all — best, because the cost is minimal and the attractions are intriguing — is close at hand. Consider a “staycation” right here in Brown County. You’ve probably already done some of these things, but if not, you don’t know what you’re missing right here at home.

Lake Brownwood and its state park are at the top of the list, but look at everything else our community has to offer. Consider places like the Brown County Museum of History, the Lehnis Railroad Museum, and Riverside and Fabis parks, to name a few. With the money you save on travel and lodging, you can afford to splurge on a great meal at one our area’s distinctive restaurants.

Have you been? Even if you have, wouldn’t you like to go again? Either way, it’s all there waiting for us to enjoy.


Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at news@brownwoodbulletin.com.